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23 Feb 2023 | By Heather Apse

RSVP Etiquette for Event Planning

Are you event planning and a bit uncertain about RSVP etiquette and how to manage guest count? The RSVP date and the attending guest list can certainly be a source of frustration and stress in event planning. After all, it's crucial you know exactly how many people are attending your party so that you can plan appropriate seating, food, and beverages. But at the same time, you want to avoid rushing the RSVP, be hospitable, and give your guests ample time to plan their schedules. We’ve got great tips for how you can manage guest responses for your next party with confidence.

1. Be Smart with your RSVP Date. 

First, determine when you will need your exact headcount to tell your selected catering company, party venue, or any other vendors. Always make your RSVP date earlier than you really need it because it's more than likely that your guests will wait until the last minute or somtimes even later! For example, say you need to provide your guest count by the 30th of the month. You would then want to choose an RSVP status by the 20th. This would give your guests time as well as give you enough time to reach out to any non-responders. 


2. Plan Ahead.

So many facets of event planning are about timing. When it comes to your invitations and RSVP dates, it’s important to send party invitations out early enough so the guests have time to plan, and they will be most likely to RSVP. The timing of this is dependent on several factors, including the event type, location, seasonality, and more. Generally, plan to send invitations for a formal party three to five weeks in advance. For more informal events, three weeks or less is usually enough. 


3. Provide Easy RSVP.

Whether you’re sending paper invitations, online invitations, or a combination of both, you should make it as clear and easy for your invitees. Make sure your RSVP-by date is easy to recognize and easy to read. If you opt for a paper invite, include a pre-addressed and stamped envelope. If you do online RSVPs, it can help to lead guests to RSVP nearly right away. 


4. Final RSVP Reminders.

What if invitees don't respond by the date provided? A gentle reminder a few days after the RSVP deadline can help increase the response rate for late RSVPers. Try giving individuals a friendly phone call or shoot them an email. If they don't respond to your outreach, take it in stride and consider their response a "no."


5. Consider Padding your Final Number.

Straggler-RSVPers and people that had RSVPed as a “no” can and still do sometimes show up to the event. For this reason, it may be a good idea to include a few extra to your headcount for your catering company or your venue. At the very least, have a discussion with your caterer or venue. Some automatically plan to make a little extra food and have extra settings in case. 


6. Plus Ones.

What if your invitees ask to bring a date or children? This is completely up to you as the event planner. If it's a private corporate event for executives only, you have to make the decision if you want extra people that aren’t employees. If it’s a social event or wedding, think about this early on to save stress during the process. On your RSVP, you should include if "plus ones" or children are allowed so that there is no last-minute confusion.

Guest counts can be a tricky piece of party planning and are sometimes hard to estimate. Now that you are armed with some great strategies for guest responses and RSVP etiquette, event planning will be a bit easier. 


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